CHENNAI: A journalist, a radio jockey, an entrepreneur, a film enthusiast, a photographer, an art curator…one would call her a jack of all trades but Sujatha Narayanan asks, “Why not master of all trades?”
When society and family expected her to finish education, Sujatha decided to step away and choose the wilder yet happier path: a career that deals with anything and everything creative. Till today, she has worked at newspaper publications, with Kamal Haasan in films like Anbe Sivam (2003), was a radio jockey in Radio Mirchi and now owns her own production company called Thinking Hats and has a home gallery featuring city artists’ best works.
Sujatha was born and raised in the heart of Chennai culture — Mylapore and within the walls of her home, she was surrounded by movie buffs. “At any given point of time, there were at least 16 members living under the roof — an extended joint family, all of whom loved movies except my father who was into business. All family outings would be to movie shootings or screenings. Our house echoed with debates between Sivaji and MGR fans and later Rajini and Kamal fans,” says Sujatha who is a Kamal fan.
Sitting with her at the Thinking Hats Home Gallery, Sujatha found it amusing to be the one interviewed rather than the other way around. Her first journalistic stint was while she was still a student. She interviewed Sivaji Ganesan, Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth.
“I wasn’t intimidated at all. I grew up watching them shoot, knew every little thing as my house buzzed with latest news. People grow up with posters of their icons stuck to the wall; I had no need for it. I would see Kamal sir at work often,” she explains.
Once taking a break from school hours, Sujatha ran to the shooting sets of actor Vikram close by and met Kamal. Later, she’d come back with the hopes of working with him in Anbe Sivam.
“He remembered me. I asked him if I had to get a degree. He said this place will fetch you your degree, pointing to his own office which was filled with people. And so I began.” Her parents found it difficult to accept her chosen path that had no further education along it. But Sujatha ended up learning a lot more than a degree could have taught her.
She worked in Radio Mirchi for six years, freelanced for a while and in 2010, set up Thinking Hats. What about marriage? “Well, I’m single and looking,” she winks. And dreams? “I’m living my dream! And I only want to make more films and become an executive producer. I have the ability to work well with directors. My life revolves in this space.”
Right now, Sujatha is working to fulfill her father’s dream of seeing an MBA title behind her name.
To meet the intriguing woman, catch her in conversation with Avis Viswanathan at the Bliss Catchers event, Odyssey, Adyar on March 26.